30 November 2010


November is a month of gratitude for me for a number of reasons, so I am always sad to see it go. For four years now I have participated in Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, and each year that I pull a novel out of thin air (working on it only after my work is done and the children are in bed), I'm surprised and thankful. Thankful because I'm doing something I love and have a carrot and stick to make me do it.

November is also the month that we spend more time indoors together. There's less to do outdoors. The garden doesn't need tending anymore and has been tilled back into itself to feed itself for another year. The fruits have been mulched and fed with a rich layer of compost and the chickens are quieter now and appreciate our company more and food scraps with fewer grubs and bugs to eat.

Lucky, our handsome one-eyed rooster.

November is the month that comfort foods start appearing on the dinner table; warm and creamy squash dishes, vegetable casseroles, roasted chickens, hearty potatoes and root vegetables, soups, and sweet apple crisps and warm puddings. We begin to open the jars of jams we set aside in summer, blueberry jam from our neighbors' blueberries, strawberry from the orchard down the road, cranberry grape jam for turkey and chicken dinners. A homemade pie crust can be filled with anything in November; a savory quiche, a pumpkin pie, a chicken vegetable stew, sweet potatoes, cinnamon apples with crumble topping, or vegetables and cheese.

The wood stove cranks out enough heat to keep two stories of our house very warm and suddenly we're wearing T-shirts again. With the shorter days, we spend more time at home inside the house as a family, tickling, giggling, talking, snuggling, reading books, and rascaling (that's an actual word in our vocabulary).

Savannah reads William his favorite book, Each Peach Pear Plum, on the sofa in pajammies (another Sara word) before bedtime.
We also prepare for the Christmas holiday by beginning our annual decluttering. We pick up our stuff and ask it when we last used it, whether it makes our lives easier or more beautiful, whether it or the space it occupies is more important to us. Space that can be used for practicing Taekwondo, for dancing to the Backyardigans theme song for the 10,000th time, for entertaining guests, now that we're indoors so much, or for chasing, or tickling, or driving toy cars around.

William making art at the easel.

November is a great time to begin star gazing again. My favorite constellations are prominent in the early night sky and Venus always shines brightly. There are meteor showers and they start early enough that the kids can see them before bedtime, just in time to wish on a star. Yes, November is among my favorite months, so I am always sad to see it go, but grateful that we experienced all it had to offer.

12 November 2010

Paper whites

Late fall and early winter days can feel drab after the bright colors of early autumn and the end of harvest abundance. One way I like to counteract is with a burst of spring in the house by forcing bulbs. This year we are using paper whites in two rounds. One for early November, one for Thanksgiving.

Bulbs planted in river pebbles and water the last week of October.

They are fragrant like lilies, almost too sweet if you are sensitive to smells like I am, but they are easy to keep and grow quickly.

Each flower grows in a cluster of 10-12 white flowers and each bulb has 2 to 4 flower clusters of its own.
 Overall, very satisfying effect for such a quick indoor gardening project in the middle of the drab days between fall and winter, brown and white.